Weekly, the question of gas vs diesel comes up in the Fulltime Families FB Group. When every penny counts, gas vehicles seem like a better deal, but are you really losing all that savings in the long run, because diesel burns more efficiently?
Editor’s Note: While this article addresses mostly motorhomes, all the facts below apply to diesel vs gasoline trucks in the case of towables.
The folks at Paul Everts RV Country have chimed in on the Fulltime Families blog to help us all make well informed decisions.
In this blog post we’re going to explore one of the first questions that commonly comes up when
considering the purchase of an RV. Which is better, gas or diesel? The answer? Honestly it’s up
to you! It can go either way, and depends greatly on who you are, where you’re going, what you
have to spend, and what is most important to you. Let’s start by defining briefly what diesel and
gasoline are, and how the engines for each differ.
Diesel has a strong odor, and is a combustiblepetroleum distillate used as fuel for diesel engines. Diesel is a non volatile fuel, which means that it can be stored for long periods of time without evaporating and its vapors are not flammable.
Gasoline is a volatile, flammable liquid mixture of hydrocarbons, obtained from petroleum, and
used as fuel for internal combustion engines. Gasoline has a strong odor, and cannot be stored
for a long time, as it evaporates. In a gasoline engine, fuel is mixed with air, compressed by
pistons and ignited by sparks from spark plugs. In a diesel engine, however, the air is
compressed first, and then the fuel is injected. Because air heats up when it’s compressed, the
So, now that you know a little about “what’s what” and how they each work, how do you
determine which one is best for you and your family?
Well, there are pros and cons to each, and only by doing some in depth
research and having a solid vision of what your intentions for travel
are, will you find the answer for yourself. There are many advantages to having a diesel engine.
Diesel engines have more power which translates to more torque, and means better towing
capacity and stronger uphill acceleration. This also means you’re able to have a larger RV if that
is something you’re looking for. The more weight you load into your RV, or the more you want to
tow (think boats/cars/trailers) the more power you need, and a diesel engine will be the most
cost effective way to do this. Also, diesel engines are built to handle a more intense, long
distance type of driving than gas engines are. This means that if you’re using your RV full time
and moving a lot, or you are driving very long distances, a diesel engine will handle the workload
better and will also hold up longer than a gas engine would making like trips. When maintained
properly, diesel engines typically last about twice as long as a gasoline engine. Some of the
disadvantages of a diesel engine are that a diesel powered vehicle is going to cost you
substantially more up front to purchase. Diesel is more expensive than gasoline, costing
anywhere from thirty cents to a dollar more per gallon depending on fluctuations and where you
are geographically. You cannot always find diesel readily available at all service stations when
needed, and therefore you must plan your trips carefully so as not to be stranded with no diesel
Cold weather can cause problems for diesel engines, and because of the more
complex engine, you cannot take a diesel to a regular mechanic for repairs. You’ll need a truck
mechanic, and this will be much more costly to maintain and repair. Now, some pros to owning
a gasoline powered RV. A gasoline powered RV is going to cost you less money up front to
purchase. Regular maintenance and fixes can be done by just about any repair shop, which can
be very important if you need repairs while out on the road. Someone with a little bit of technical
knowledge and mechanical experience can take care of many of the minor maintenance issues
on their own, potentially saving quite a bit of money over time. Gasoline costs less per gallon
than diesel, and of course you can find your gasoline at every service station. However, with a
gasoline powered engine you do not have the power and torque of a diesel, and you may
struggle with acceleration power through mountainous areas or if you are towing anything at all.
The engine will suck a lot of gas to try to pull its weight on inclines, etc., and will burn through
your fuel faster than a diesel would. Lastly, when purchasing a gas powered RV, you may have
to sacrifice a bit of luxury, as the larger, longer, more luxurious RV’s tend to be diesel to
accommodate their weight and size.
Now that we’ve given you a few things to think about, and some information to get you started,
it’s up to you to make the very personal choice as to which is the best option for you and your
family. If you are dreaming of a large, luxurious motorhome to spend a lot of time in driving
through mountain passes, while towing your fishing boat, then a diesel is the way to go. But, if
you are looking for a smaller, more affordable, easier to maintain RV, to use mostly on relatively
flat land, then gasoline is likely the right choice for you.
In the end, it all comes down to cost, convenience, and your plans for your RV’ing lifestyle.
If you would like more information on finding the RV that’s perfect for you, please come see us at